Which Language does Indians Speak?

Published: September 18, 2019

The idea proposed by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah that Hindi is the unifying language and must be made National language has created a lot of resentment especially in southern states. Below is the Hindi language profile in India (based on 2011 census).

Languages of India

  • 43% of Indians speak the Hindi language, which includes many mother tongues such as Bhojpuri, Rajasthani & Hindi. The Hindi language had 56 mother tongues listed under it and the share of peakers is as shown below.

  • Only 26% of Indians speak Hindi as mother tongue under the broader Hindi language grouping.
  • About 40% of the Hindi language speakers speak mother tongues other than Hindi.
  • Below map shows the share of a State’s population who speak the Hindi language (which includes many mother tongues) as of 2011. The share of Hindi language speakers was highest in the state ofUttar Pradesh and was lowest in the state of Kerala.

An important fact which needs to be observed here is despite being spoken by a large number of people, Bhojpuri and Rajasthani are not listed as scheduled languages, while Bodo and Nepali which are spoken by relatively fewer people are listed in the Eighth Schedule.

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